AutoCAD 2016 New Features – It’s All About Dimensioning

In my first blog posting about AutoCAD 2016, I touched briefly on the dimensioning improvements in the latest release. This week, I’ll take you on a deeper dive into the new capabilities.

As I mentioned, rather than having to choose from among nearly a dozen different tools to add linear, radial, angular, baseline, and ordinate dimensions, AutoCAD 2016 provides a single DIM command that intelligently predicts the type of dimension you want to create when you move the cursor over existing geometry. You will find this new tool prominently displayed on both the Home and Annotate ribbons. The older dimensioning commands are still there as well, but have been relegated to a single, smaller split-button.

AutoCAD 2016 Dimension Features

On the Annotate ribbon, in the Dimensions panel to the right of the new Dimension tool, you will also find a new Dim Layer Override control. Unlike dimensions created using the older tools, dimension created using the new DIM command are automatically placed on the specified layer, much the same as hatch patterns can be placed on a designated layer rather than on the current layer. This can result in significant time savings since you no longer need to change the current layer before creating dimensions.
But the convenience doesn’t just end there. If an appropriate dimension layer does not yet exist in the drawing, the new DIM command provides a Layer option, so you can quickly create a new layer on the fly. Options within the DIM command are now displayed at the command line and in the right-click menu, eliminating the need for you to remember which options are available and how to use them.

AutoCAD 2016 DIM Command

However, even the need to specify dimension options is significantly reduced because in AutoCAD 2016, the DIM command automatically creates appropriate dimensions based on the type of object you select. As you move cursor over objects in the drawing, you see a preview of the resulting dimension before you actually create it. For example, when you move the cursor over a linear object, you see a preview of the appropriate horizontal, vertical, or aligned dimension. After selecting the object, you can either place the dimension or move the cursor over another non-parallel linear object to display and place an angular dimension.

Placing dimensions with Linear objects in AutoCAD 2016

If you hover the cursor over a circle or arc, you see a preview of a diameter or radial dimension and the prompt changes to offer appropriate options, including the ability to switch between Radius, Diameter, and Arc Length dimensions. Arc objects also include the additional option to create an angular dimension or jogged dimension, or place a center mark or centerline.

Diameter or Radial Dimension

The new DIM command further simplifies creating dimensions by eliminating prompts to modify the dimension text and angle. Instead, the default values are automatically applied. Mtext, Text, and Text Angle options are also available from the command line and right-click menus if you choose to change the default values.
If you attempt to create a dimension that overlaps with other similar dimensions, a cursor menu offers options to automatically move, break up, or replace the existing dimensions in addition to simply placing the new dimension on top of the existing ones without affecting them.

Working with Existing Dimensions

You can also use the new DIM command to add Baseline or Continued dimensions and when you do, you are automatically prompted to select the first extension line origin.
Instead of having to remember lots of other commands, the new DIM command also includes options to align selected dimensions or adjust the spacing between dimensions. And this capability works with all types of dimensions, including ordinate dimensions, making it extremely easy to create clean, easy-to-read documentation.

Regardless of which type of dimensions you create, the DIM command remains active, enabling you to easily place additional dimensions until you exit the command.
The new dimensioning capabilities are so impressive and so extensive, you may be tempted to call AutoCAD 2016 “the Dimensioning release.” But there’s a lot more to this new version of AutoCAD. In the weeks to come, I’ll continue to show you many of these new features and tell you how to make the best use of the many new capabilities.

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